Vucic says prepared to attend Srebenica ceremony

By bne IntelliNews June 22, 2015

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on June 19 that he is ready to attend the ceremony that will mark the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre committed during the Bosnian war, if Bosnia’s Muslims are willing to accept his presence.

Vucic told a press conference in Belgrade that he is ready to bow his head to Srebrenica’s innocent victims. "As prime minister, I am ready to bow my head to show the stand we take towards the innocent victims of Srebrenica," he said.

The ceremony, which will take place in July, will commemorate the worst atrocity to have occurred in Europe since the end of World War Two.

In order to mark the event, the United Nations is preparing to vote on a UK-drafted resolution condemning the killing of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica, which was a UN-protected enclave in 1995 and was supposed to be a safe haven for those escaping the conflict.

The massacre, which was committed by Bosnian Serb war commanders, has already been ruled as genocide by the Hague, but Serbia and Bosnian Serbs have declined to recognise it as such.

“A grave, terrible crime took place in Srebrenica,” Vucic said at the press conference, but refused to label it genocide.

Vucic said on June 19 that Serbia has informed the five members of the UN’s Security Council that it is not supporting the draft text of the Srebrenica resolution. However, he added his government has not taken a decision to ask Russia to veto it.

According to Vucic, if the resolution is accepted in its current form it will have major political and legal consequences for Serbia. He underlined that the proposals of resolutions coming from abroad have so far failed to contribute towards making positive change in the region, and have only ignited passions.

He added that Britain had failed to consult Serbia about the resolution or even informed the government about it ahead of time.

In March, Serbia arrested the first group of eight people accused of taking part in the massacre, which was seen by many as a positive step in the country facing up to its past. Vucic told the press conference that Serbia had so far arrested 12 people and convicted four in relation to what happened in Srebrenica in 1995.

Whether Vucic’s presence at the twentieth anniversary ceremony will be accepted is another matter.

Following Vucic’s statement, Srebrenica Mayor Camil Durakovic told AFP news agency that: "It would have been better if he had said that he did not want to come, because Serbia still neither recognises what happened in the past, nor the judgements confirming that a genocide took place in Srebrenica."

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